Myanmar to hold gems auction despite trading ban

YANGON - Military-run Myanmar announced Wednesday it would hold a mid-year auction of precious gems in Yangon, despite economic sanctions banning their international trade.

By (AFP)

Published: Wed 27 Aug 2008, 2:23 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 11:59 AM

Jade, pearls and precious gems will be among the lots on sale, an official said.

‘The mid-year emporium will be held in the coming October. We cannot release detailed information for now,’ an official from the Myanma Gems Enterprise told AFP.

‘The sales will be based on a competitive bidding system as usual,’ he added.

Myanmar last held a gems auction in June in the immediate aftermath of a deadly cyclone that swept the country's south, leaving 138,000 people dead or missing.

At a previous sale in March, 7,700 lots were sold, valued at more than 100 million euros (153 million dollars).

Myanmar, one of the world's poorest countries, is the source of some of the globe's most beautiful rubies. Each auction brings in more than 100 million dollars, making it a key source of revenue for the ruling junta.

The United States blocked imports of Myanmar's gems in July, passing new legislation to prevent the gems entering US markets via third-party countries.

Europe also intensified economic sanctions on the regime after a deadly crackdown on pro-democracy protesters last year, while Washington and human rights groups have urged gem buyers to boycott the sales.

Myanmar's two biggest customers, neighbouring China and Thailand, have continued to attend the frequent gem auctions.

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